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Course: Appetizers
Cuisine: Indonesian
Keyword: Chicken, Grill, satay, skewer

Chicken Satay

ACTIVE TIME: 30 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 3 hours 30 minutes
Yield: 20 skewers
Photo by Lynne Calamia
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  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sliced 1/3 inch thick
  • 1 large lime, zested and juiced
  • 2 inch piece ginger, peeled and grated on rasp
  • 3 Thai bird chilis, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup kecap manis or Indonesian sweet soy sauce (easily found on the web)
  • 2 teaspoons chili oil
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Specialized Hardware

Fine rasp for grating
1-gallon zip top bag
Charcoal grill (see note)
20 8-inch wooden skewers, soaked in water (see other note)
ACTIVE TIME: 30 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 3 hours 30 minutes
Yield: 20 skewers


  • Place the chicken in a 1-gallon zip top bag. Thoroughly combine the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl then add to the bag. Securely seal, squeezing out as much air as possible. Squish the bag around to ensure everything is evenly coated, then refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
  • When the marinating time is almost up, prepare a charcoal grill for direct heat.
  • Remove the chicken from the bag (reserving the marinade) and place on a rack positioned over a sheet pan to catch any drips. Thread 1 or 2 slices of chicken per skewer so they lay straight and flat. You should end up with around 20 skewers.
  • Pour the reserved marinade into a 1-quart saucepan over medium-high heat and boil for 5 minutes until thickened to glaze consistency.
  • Arrange the skewers on the grill and cook, flipping them often and brushing with the marinade, for 2-3 minutes, or until nicely charred and cooked through. Remove to a platter.
  • Serve as is, or with our Cashew Coconut Sauce for dipping.
  • Note: My favorite grill for satay or kushiyaki is known as a Konro. Frequently seen in yakitori restaurants, it's basically a fairly narrow box made of diatomaceous earth. Konros can be used with grill grates, (which I prefer) or, if you're using flat skewers (which prevent rolling) you can simply rest the ends on the sides of the grill. I have two Konros and I love the short one (a mere 12" x 9") so much that I've written several sonnets to it. When loaded with Japanese binchotan charcoal, it's simply the perfect grill for small pieces of food and skewers.
    If you have yet to acquire a Konro, I suggest building a small charcoal fire on your grill's coal grate, between four fireplace bricks arranged thusly...and topped with a small, steel cooling grate, In any case the fire should be medium hot so that a hand held an inch over the grate can only be kept there for a second, (unless you're like Gary Busey's character in Lethal Weapon, in which case I can't help you). If you don't want to mess with bricks, fine...weave two folded over (2-ply) strips of heavy-duty aluminum foil through your grill grates, parallel to each other at a distance that matches the length of the skewers taken up by the meat. Lay a small metal cooling rack on top (so that the skewers don't fall through the grates) and cook over a hot fire. The foil should protect the ends of the skewers from full on combustion.
    And yet another note: Since they tend to float, I soak my skewers in a plastic water bottle. When I need one, I just open the lid and kinda pour them out. This is far more efficient than soaking in a loaf pan or baking dish.
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